John Gorentz (johngorentz) wrote in democracyreader,
John Gorentz

Corporatism and Letter from Birmingham City Jail

" is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals."

This is from Martin Luther King Jr's famous "Letter from Birmingham City Jail."

BTW, I had certainly heard of this letter before, but had never read it until now. I was quite impressed, from beginning to end.

The quoted item above is by far not the most important thing in the letter, but it caught my attention. I hadn't known that Reinhold Niebuhr said anything like that about groups and individuals. But it's true. As an individual I might not want to support the oppressive government of China or whatever, but as a member of a group, i.e. as an employee of a corporation that happens to be a public university, I have to buy from whoever offers the best price. Same way when it comes to dealing with other employees -- my responsibility is to look out for the good of the university. As individuals we might never want to create hardship for other hard-up individuals to build a new baseball stadium, justice center, or fund a health care plan so that Ma and Pa don't have to sell their $200,000 motor home and $500,000 home. But as members of a group, we'll do it.

If the term "corporate greed" means anything at all, it means that we'll do things behind the shield of the organization that we would never justify doing as individuals.
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